Bulletin

An online magazine of news and opinions from the Asia New Zealand Foundation

Office life "like a family" for Taiwan intern

Coming to the end of a three-month internship at ANZCO Foods in Taiwan, Tom Bone describes the bustle of life in Taipei and the unexpectedly family-like atmosphere of office life.

Tom Bone standing in a freezer holding a notebook

The office I work in is small, with four other people; it feels much more like a family than an office, though. Everyone here gets along so well, which makes it a really fun place to work.

Whenever we share meals, everyone makes fun of each other, from the boss down to me. It's great being able to sit down and just have a laugh with everyone.

Sometimes it can get very chaotic, though - with a lot of loud and fast Chinese conversations going on and phones that never stop ringing. It is very different to what I am used to in New Zealand.

At work, I get to do a variety of tasks. Each day I have some admin work I need to get through, mainly just keeping documents up to date. Although its basic work it has been really helpful for me as it's given a really good understand of how the business and office operates here. That understanding has helped me a lot when I work on my research projects.

Every week or so I am given a new project to start work on. The most challenging project so far was working on the cost structure of importing products to Taiwan. As I had never done anything like it before I had no idea where to start (not to mention all the financial documents were in Chinese). Once I got stuck, in it became really interesting to look at how and where costs accrued and what business model would work best with our cost structure. Doing this has also helped me with other projects as I now know what is actually realistic for our business, which is something you don't really learn in University.

One thing about the work culture that is interesting is that I am encouraged to challenge people. It has been a really good skill to learn how to respectfully disagree with someone in a meeting. The first few times felt a little odd, but I have really got the hang of it, part of it means you will get challenged a lot too. But it makes you really consider all view points before you pitch an idea and it normally helps you come up with even better ideas.

The greatest lesson I have learnt so far would be how connected the world is and how fast everything is moving. Living in New Zealand makes it easy to sit on the sideline because of how isolated we are. However, it is really important to think about the effects globalisation has on New Zealand. Because of that, I believe that it's increasingly important for New Zealand business to strengthen international relations.

Tom Bone and fellow interns at an arcade in Taiwan

Having been to parts of Asia before, I had some idea of what to expect, but the bustle of Taiwan is what stood out. In New Zealand, we take space for granted; we build outwards rather than upwards. In Taiwan, every square metre is critical. It all looks completely chaotic, but there is a real charm about it.

When I am not at work, I love to explore, and in Taipei it is near impossible to run out of things to do! The MRT system in Taipei is so easy to use, trains are coming and going every couple of minutes. Often I will catch up with friends on the weekend, sometimes after work and we explore the city.

The food culture has been really exciting to experience here. I have eaten a lot of foods I would otherwise not have eaten - from oesophagus to snake venom and stinky tofu. Some have, surprisingly, been really good and some not so tasty, but it's all part of the fun.

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February 2017